Any home with a stairway or elevated area will usually have some handrails and they are common items in building erection. Handrails were traditionally installed alongside stairways, bridges and steps for safety purposes as it provides a vital handhold for anybody climbing up an elevated area. With modern developments, houses do not really utilize handrails as a vital part of the structure, and handrails are quite often installed for aesthetic reasons or as part of the interior decoration of the building. Handrails can lend a particular tone to a building and allow for safety at the same time. Balustrades tend to have the same function but are constructed differently.
There are many kinds of handrails and when constructing a building, it is advisable for the owner or architect of the building to be familiar with the different kinds of rails as well as their best uses. An incorrect choice may impair the flow of aesthetic lines or disturb the tone of interior décor and design. It can also change the architectural ambience of the house – for instance, handrails can change the look from residential to industrial very easily.
Railings are constructed from various types of materials, such as timber, glass, steel, iron, stone and even cement.
Cemented handrails are not always made from cement and are sometimes fashioned from concrete materials such as stone or travertine. The rails can be manufactured off site and brought in to be installed all together on site. The main advantage to having these handrails is that they are fitted as a permanent fixture to the stairway or steps. Their look can be unobtrusive and subtle, or large and loud, but either way they tend to blend in very well with the rest of the tone.
Iron railings are usually found on period buildings such as Victorian homes, but are becoming increasingly popular as a more modern railing solution. These tend to be less expensive than the stone railings and are relatively simple to mount in place. They are also very adaptable to modern or other surroundings.
Glass railings are now very fashionable and are quite often used in the more expensive types of buildings like modern hotels or homes. Current décor design quite often includes large pieces of Perspex or glass and glass railings will complement such surroundings perfectly.